// Shopping centre giant Intu is reportedly exploring a buyout deal
// Private equity firm Orion Capital Managers a front runner in the buyout process
// Orion currently holds 9.2% of shares in the business
Intu is reportedly exploring a buyout deal after the shopping centre giant endured a challenging trading period across its portfolio.
According to The Sunday Times, there private equity firm Orion Capital Managers is a front runner with owner Aref Lahham understood to be in the early stages of seeking partners for the buyout process.
Orion Capital currently holds 9.2 per cent of shares in Intu, which operates shopping centres around the country like Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Intu Lakeside in Essex.
In order to launch a successful takeover bid, Orion Capital would need to work with other Intu shareholders like John Whittaker’s Peel Holdings, which has a 27.3 per cent stake, and Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group, which has a stake in Peel.
If a buyout was completed, it would help Intu avert breaching debt covenants on over £1 billion of debt.
Intu declined to comment on the report.
The news comes after Intu recently revealed that like-for-like net rental income dropped 7.7 per cent to £205.2 million in the six months to June 30.
Chief executive Matthew Roberts said the shopping centre chain had been hit by a wave of store closures and CVAs from major retailers in recent months, including House of Fraser, Toys R US, HMV and New Look.
The Orion Capital buyout speculation is not the first time Intu has been eyed by potential bidders.
Last year, Peel, Olayan and another Intu Brookfield attempted to make the firm private, but failed after lenders became nervous.
There was also a failed merger attempt with rival shopping centre giant Hammerson.